The origins of the immunological synapse

Monday 19 January 2015, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Prof Gillian Griffiths, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

Cells of the immune system need to communicate with each other in order to generate an effective immune response.  One way in which they do so is by forming an “immunological synapse” a term first used to describe the directed secretion of cytokines “into a small space between two cells” by Seder and Paul in 1994.   The immunological synapse provides a remarkable example of cell polarity, with membrane receptors, cell cytoskeleton and secretory organelles focused towards the point of interaction.   But what are the events that lead to secretion at the immunological synapse?  Using high resolution multi-colour imaging in 4D we have now studied these events and the movies capturing CTL killing their targets in 3D provide a new temporally resolved model providing new insights into the mechanisms underlying secretion at the immunological synapse.

Striking similarities exist between the immunological synapse, which forms between immune cells and primary cilia.  In both cases the centrosome polarizes to the plasma membrane creating a region of the plasma membrane that becomes specialized in signaling, endocytosis and exocytosis.   The extent of these similarities will be discussed in the context of how the immunological synapse might have arisen.

Location: The Dianna Bowles Lecture Theatre (K018)

Admission: Open